Travel is more than the seeing of sights;

it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. – Miriam Beard

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And that’s a wrap.

I’m home. It is actually a little strange but at the same time not strange at all. It’s weird to think that it has been six months since I left for England because it seems like just yesterday that I was here. Except for some things like driving the first time was a tad bit of a struggle, seeing my extremely full closet after surviving on the clothes in my suitcase, and just the realization that it will be a long time before I see all my new friends again.

Studying abroad has given me so many things from friends, to a greater independence and appreciation for cultures of others. I have definitely grown as a person and I wouldn’t change my experience for anything. At the beginning when I was homesick I kept telling myself that by the end I wouldn’t want to leave. And oh how true this was, my last week in England was quite an emotional one. I cried multiple times, how could I leave this amazing group of people that I had come to rely on and love. Now that I am in the US, I’m beginning to understand that leaving people is part of life, but it’s what you do with the leaving that matters. Like now it would be so easy to leave and never look back, but for me I know I won’t do that. I want to stay in touch and yes it takes effort but from previous experiences in my life I know that it is totally worth it. So watch out England, I plan to come back to see all the amazing friends I’ve made, when this will happen, I don’t know, but it will and that’s a fact.

Miss everybody in England, glad to be home and can’t wait to go back!

 

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Exams. The English Way.

Invigilators, Ids, Exam Halls, Question Choice. It all brings me back to my days of IB testing, somewhat. Considering the invigilators are stricter; no talking in the exam room, not even whispering, time is kept quite strictly. It is all very interesting and different from the American finals counterpart. Consider this, after taking 2 exams in 2 different subjects, I have a pretty good feel for the set up. The first major difference is the weight given to the exam. With 3 exams being taken, 1 is 70 percent of my mark and the other two are 80 percent of my final mark. That is CRAZY compared to the finals in the USA where a final worth 40% is bordering on outrageous.

Anyway, all the exams for all the classes are taken in one of two locations on campus, the Sports Centre or Mandela Hall in Falmer House. I have now had an exam in both. And let me tell you they are not messing around with these exam rooms. They are huge rooms with about 200-300 desks in them, evenly spaced out to prevent cheating of any sort and even whispering before the exam.

Then there are the exams themselves, my first exam had 4 questions and I had to answer 2! Okay now keep in mind these aren’t two short answer questions answering the two questions took up 3 pages front and back of writing and math worked out but still only two questions, and those two questions covered about half of what we learned in the course. The tests are cumulative but not in the same sense as a cumulative final in the USA. My test today was five questions each with 20 marks, and yes you had to answer all of them, but keep in mind a 70 percent transfers back as an A, so if you get one completely wrong you still have an A. So even though the exams are 70-80 percent there is definitely not the pressure like in the US where you want a 93 or higher to get an A.

Oh also, you don’t write your name anywhere on the exam. In fact that would be a big no-no, I’m pretty sure there is a penalty. The exam process is all about anonymity here. From having a candidate number that is on your student id, which if you fail to bring you get a green card, and if you forget it again you get reported to the examination board…which is bad. The whole process is just so foreign to me. Although, I guess that makes sense considering I am in a foreign country, but still I can honestly say that I will never understand all the hoops my exam paper goes through after I finish answering it. But I’m pretty sure it goes to the Mathematics(or whatever subject it is) Examination Board and gets reviewed/graded by two examiners and then since I am an international student it goes to the International Student Examination Board and gets examined again, before finally I get to find out how I did. Oh and for the sad news, that probably won’t be until late July and entire month to month and a half after taking my exams. I will no longer complain about the slow turn around time in the USA. It is definitely anything but slow compared to the system here, and significantly simpler. But I guess it’s all part of the experience.

P.S. You’re lucky you’re not here for this part. Oh and sadly no pictures cause that is another BIG NO-NO, pics of the exam halls, you would definitely be in trouble.

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Swimming in the channel!

Abbie and I on the beach

The English Channel is cold. Very cold. But you can’t spend six months living so close to the coast of the English channel and not go swimming in it. So yesterday was a gorgeous day and some of my housemates and I decided we would go to the Brighton Beach and just spend the day there. Take a break from all of our revision and just relax. The sun was shining and it was “warm” for English standards. A scorching 75 degrees fahrenheit. It honestly felt really hot. Not quite sure how I’m going to survive once I return to the humid and hot temperatures of the US. But anyways, we went to the beach. And it was so crowded! There were more people at the beach then I think I’ve seen on any of the other beaches I’ve been to in my life. Not that I go to that many beaches, I’m not really the beach vacation type of person.

So we just laid around for awhile and then finally we decided we might as well walk towards the waters edge more. Our feet hit the water and boy was it cold. So we just sort of stood there and let the waves crash over onto our feet making sure that we didn’t get too close. Although at this point my swimming withdrawal kicked in because it has been awhile since I’ve really been in water. Needless to say, I decided to brave the cold temperatures and head in. Probably some of the coldest water I’ve been in in my life that I can remember but I’m so glad I went in because now I can truly say I swam in the English channel. Although it did make me wonder how people survive swimming all the way to France from England because I think I would die of hypothermia!

Although I did notice that unlike most other beaches I’ve been at, the people here were there solely for soaking up some rays, because there were only a handful of people actually in the water. There were a few kayaks out and sailing boats but not that many people actually swimming. Friday was the most crowded I had ever seen Brighton and it turns out that lots of people just take the train down from London on absolutely gorgeous days to soak up the sun and just relax, do some shopping, and eat some wonderful food. Honestly I am so happy, I am studying here. I can’t imagine a more interesting and relaxing place.

P.S. Wish you were here.

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English BBQ Time

So for the last two days the weather has been BEAUTIFUL here! It is sunny and about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I couldn’t ask for nicer weather! Although I was complaining that it was a little hot, after all the 50 degree weather 75 was quite toasty. I definitely don’t know how I am going to survive when I return to the USA at the end of June because it will definitely be much hotter.

Well anyways because the weather was so sunny, gorgeous and just absolutely lovely, my housemate Abbie suggested that we have a barbecue. I thought this sounded like a wonderful plan, except I was a little stumped considering all we have is an oven. So wasn’t sure how this whole outdoors barbecue thing was going to work, until I was informed that they sell disposable barbecues at nearly all of the grocery stores here. So the barbecue was on!

Katie and I went to town while the sun was shining and did a little shopping at some of the stores and it is quite amazing how much more populated the city seems to become when the sun comes out. There were people everywhere and all types, young, old, overdressed, underdressed (we were unfortunate enough to see a plentiful amount of guys with there shirts off that would have looked much better if they had kept it on.) We stopped in Poundland to pick up two disposable BBQs. Only 2 pounds! What a deal! Finally we headed over to Iceland and Aldi’s to buy food for our BBQ where Abbie met us. Iceland is basically a store with two huge aisles of freezer food and one aisle of other food that is all really really cheap, but suprisingly tasty. We bought some burgers there, hot dogs, and chicken skewers, and then Katie and I stocked up on other food since our cupboards were basically empty. Next we moved next door to Aldi to pick up a few last items that we needed for the potato salad and pasta salad and just burger toppings. We were set! It was a little bit of a struggle to lug all our stuff to the bus stop though. We slowly trudged our way over there, my arms felt like they were going to fall off, but finally we were on the bus and on the way back home.

Abbie and Laura

Sophie, Imo, and Francesca

When we got back we made the pasta and potato salad, from SCRATCH! I’m starting to realize that my cooking skills have improved somewhat and I am pretty good an whipping together ingredients and making it taste good! Finally we were ready to hike up the hill behind us to light the BBQ and eat some dinner. It was so nice to just sit with all the girls from the house and eat a meal together, although not everybody was there since some people went home for the week. I was definitely reminded of all my summer cookouts that I’ve had in the past yet it was so different, cause we had these tiny little disposable grills and were all just drinking beer around them.

I also realized how little time left it seems like I have here compared to the amount of time that I’ve already been here. Today is May 23rd and in exactly one month on June 23rd I will board a plane to come back to the USA and the only thing between now and then is 3 exams. No class left, they all finished last week. It’s crazy to think I’ve already been here for almost 5 months. We’ll see how many more completely unplanned adventures occur, the BBQ came about in a period of 6 hours. I have one month left to make more memories, but no matter what happens, I’m beginning to realize just how much I have already experience d and how thankful I am to have had this amazing opportunity.

P.S. Wish you were here!

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Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Dubrovnik, Old Town

So I have gotten quite behind on this whole blogging thing, so I’m jumping past spring break to write about my recent adventure to Dubrovnik. The adventures started when Rachael, a friend from Duquesne who is studying in Ireland, arrived in Brighton on Sunday evening. Monday we spent the day in Brighton shopping, exploring, and just visiting the town. It was a nice break from going to Brighton to examine buildings and go to libraries for research for my art history class.

So on Tuesday, we went to the airport to catch a plane to Dubrovnik. After a nice long plane ride in the extra leg room row…somehow I was one of the last people to check in and they had to give me seat…so for a 3-hour flight I was actually pretty comfortable. Finally we were in Croatia and outside the EU so the stamp in my passport was actually somewhat different looking. We boarded a bus to take us into Dubrovnik. Some of the 40 minute ride was along drop off cliffs into the Adriatic Sea with gorgeous views of rocky hills/mountains and the shimmering blue of the sea. Needless to say, I felt like I was in heaven after coming from the 40-50 degree rainy English weather. 80 degrees, sun shining, I never wanted to leave Croatia.

Well I don’t really feel like putting into words everything about my trip, but I am going to put pictures from the city wall tour I went on, the trips to the Beach, and some photos of the food I ate because I don’t think I can put into words how amazing I thought Dubrovnik was. Although, not sure if the pictures do it justice, but you can decide. Although if you ever have the chance I would definitely recommend Dubrovnik as a place to visit. I loved it.

View just outside City Walls

Doors in the Hill near our Hotel

Banje Beach

Rachael and I on the city wall tour

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